Need A Hug?

Of all the statistics being tossed around from the Presidential election, the one that perhaps surprised me most was that 53% of white women voted for Donald Trump. Not that they should have voted for Hillary Clinton because she was a woman, but because they voted for a man who demeaned women publicly and privately.

(He also bullied and ridiculed the weak, put down minorities, and reviled immigrants.  I’m guessing that, unlike those white women,  they expressed their disapproval of his behavior with their votes.)

This election spawned a support group called Pantsuit Nation on Facebook, giving women of all ages the opportunity to interact and talk of their passions and frustrations with others who felt just as strongly.  But the bravest group of all, I thought, called themselves Republican Women for HILLARY.  At a time when even the most assertive members of Congress fear being even slightly out of step with their party line, for these women to publicly proclaim their intentions was, to me, amazing.

Within my own family, some of us were crushed by the election results intellectually and viscerally.  When my devastated older daughter went for a walk Wednesday, she came upon this house and, on impulse, felt compelled to ring the doorbell.

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She could do little but introduce herself to the woman who answered the door before bursting into tears.  The woman, a complete stranger to my daughter, reacted in the same manner.  They hugged and sobbed on the stoop before my daughter continued her walk.

Shortly afterwards, the woman changed her sign to this:

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To his credit, Donald Trump has been inclusive and gracious in his post-election comments.  It would be wise for members of Congress to behave in a similar manner, for most of us are sick of the terms Democrats and Republicans.  I for one, would like to simply be American now.

Be honorable when no one is watching.  Compromise.  That doesn’t mean “it’s MY turn now.”  It means working together: mutual concession, respecting each other’s differences.  We should be able to manage that.   We call ourselves, after all, the United States of America.

Let the hugging begin.

 

 

 

 

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Notes From Cook/Laundress

For most of July, Camp Granddad has been in full swing around here, “swing” definitely being the operative word.

Youngest Grandson, now 9, loves spending time here.  His mother says she is making a sacrifice in letting us borrow him, since he’s the only one of her brood (two teens, one toddler, one diva dog, one crazy cat) without an attitude.

Grandson and Dearly Beloved have spent hours and hours in sweaty sports activities–golf, basketball, baseball, and when they need to cool off, bowling.   YG wants to know how to do it all correctly, so Granddad provides instructions, but in a fun way.  That may explain why, when Grandson decides to hit with his putter from the tee sometimes, he does so with a near perfect swing.

DB has pronounced him a “natural” in all their activities and the word “Phenom” has even been bandied about.  He narrates hilarious videos of their activities and sends them to all the relatives.

There is no question as to whether or not YG will be able to play professional golf, baseball, and basketball.  Of COURSE!  All of them!  The only discussion has been as to how he will be able to play all three at once.   As Grandson lives in Atlanta, he will surely be drafted by the Braves and the Hawks, so he’ll be able to play those sports from the same location, but there is still the problem of going from sport to sport when Away games are involved.

I overheard one of their discussions just at the AHA! moment when they realized the simple solution they’d been overlooking.

(Headslap!)  YG would have his own private jet!

 

 

“Surely, two of the most satisfying experiences in life must be those of being a grandchild or a grandparent.” » Donald A. Norberg

“You do not really understand something unless you can explain it to your grandmother.”

 

Hot Damn! Hot Dog!

My Dearly Beloved hates malls.  You and I have discussed this before.  His mall trauma has, until recently, paled in comparison to his Big Box store phobia.  I’ve always gone alone to those because it wasn’t worth the effort of having to call Security to strap him onto a dolly for me to get him inside.  It leaves so little room for purchases.

Costco is his worst nightmare.

We aren’t bulk buyers since it’s just the two of us.  I  joined Costco mainly for the  pharmacy.  My prescription not covered by insurance is about 40% less there.   One trip paid the membership.  (I recently read on Facebook that they make most of their profits on membership fees and break even on most of the merchandise. Must be true with such a stellar source, right?)

But I digress.  Tuesday, it was time for another Costco pharmacy run.  DB came willingly, along with my assurance that I had no long list.  (He agrees that I shouldn’t need to depend on the kindness of strangers when I struggle with heavy items, so he has gone with me several times now.  He’s even dropped the whimpers and martyr face.  His sighs are much softer.)  

Once in the store though, he assumes Old Fart Costco Cart Shuffle position: stooped over the cart, elbows leaning on the cart handle.  Thinking that he might enjoy looking at gardening supplies, I suggested that he head there while I dropped off my prescription for the (gulp!) coming colonoscopy prep.

Silly me.  He wasn’t even browsing.  He’d parked on the right side of the main aisle, phone in hand, looking like he was calling Roadside Assistance.  I longed for a broomstick prod.

We cruised the wine aisles and he showed enough interest to select a few bottles.  Although he’d told me that we didn’t need birdseed, when he saw the price, he stuck a bag under the cart.  Now see, THAT’S why I needed him.  Had I tried that, I would have gotten stuck in bent-over position and needed EMT assistance.  I hate for that to happen when I have frozen items in the cart.

Let me pause here to say that I bought box of authentic Moravian Meyer Lemon Cookies. . .   delightful!!!  DB chose the coffees and his own snacks, but gasped when he saw the price of toilet tissue.   He suggested that we put some of our food items back so that we’d have need of fewer rolls.   Always a thinker, that man.

He was thrilled when we checked out for less than $200 and thought we should lunch there to celebrate.  Call me a snob, but I have never had a yen to try the  Costco food court;  I did a bit of whimpering myself.  Nevertheless, I agreed.  He went to find a table and I got in line to buy him a hotdog.

My order was a hot dog, two drinks, and some kind of barbecued beef sandwich for me.  When I took it to our table, DB asked how much the spread had cost.

$7.62.

He was ecstatic!  He loaded his hot dog with their relish, onions, and mustard and wolfed it down. . . with relish of his own.   For the next 24 hours, he kept telling me how good it had been and no, he assured me, he was not still tasting it.

Today I need to go to Lowe’s to buy soil conditioner.  My man is going to help me load the heavy bags in the station wagon.  He’s offered to buy lunch afterwards at his new favorite, intimate cafe:

La Petit Costco.

(OOPS: My friend Beanie, who taught French, says that it should be Le Petit Costco or La Petite Costco, so pardon my French.  As North Carolina is already deep into transgender hysteria, I wish to offend no one.  Choose whichever you’re comfortable with. . . and let everyone else do the same.)  

 

 

Reading By Moonlight (2016)

(Last week, our North Carolina weather went from relatively mild to snow, freezing rain, and plummeting temperatures.  The full moon added light, but no warmth.  As always, it reminded me of the interminable winters we encountered during our years in the upper Midwest;  especially one  particular January night some 30 years ago.  Our latest bout of weather has prompted me to tell that story once again.  My original post went much like this:)

Sometimes I still check the weather in the northern Wisconsin town where we lived when our children were young. I see that the low temperature tonight is -6.  Got that?  Not the windchill, but the actual temperature: minus 6.

Weather can fool you there. Bright sunshine and glistening snow, a sparkle in the air…?  Those sparkles are ice crystals.  Stay inside and wait for the cloudy days.

I remember looking out my kitchen window many wintry nights when the snow reflected the moonlight beyond the shadows of the trees.  In fact, it seemed so bright that I could have gone outside and read by the light of the moon,  I preferred the lamplight of my own cozy home.

Our daughter Boo used to call that negative weather, an apt name on several levels. A deep breath of that cold air sent a sharp, knifelike pain into the lungs and left the nostrils frozen. To say that the cold became wearying about this time of year is to vastly understate its effect on the psyche.

I led a Brownie Girl Scout troop at the church next to the neighborhood elementary school. The Jr. Girl Scout troop met at the same time, right after school ended.   Coming up with indoor activities to use up some of their pent-up energy became more challenging each week. The two groups were congenial, so we decided to plan a combined activity: we’d hold a Father-Daughter Square Dance.

The other leader found a square dance caller: a farm couple who did this to make some extra money during the winter months. The wife taught the moves while the husband acted as caller and provided the music. We planned refreshments and rounded up big brothers to come and dance with any girls whose dads couldn’t be present.  I made my own little Brownie a special outfit: a blue gingham dress and bonnet like Laura Ingalls Wilder might have worn.

It didn’t take long for the dance to grow into a much-anticipated event for the girls. A date with daddy!

The temperatures on the appointed evening chilled to the marrow, cold even by Wisconsin standards.   I believe the windchill was -30.  The snow crunched beneath our boots as we trudged from car to fellowship hall, unloading the refreshments and decorations. By the time the girls and their dads began arriving, everything was in place except the caller and his wife.  No word from them.

A few games–Duck, Duck, Goose and Strut, Miss Lucy– entertained the girls for about thirty minutes. The fathers stood around the punch bowl, introducing themselves to each other. The other leader and I led the games and smiled even as we shot each other questioning looks and kept glancing at the outer doors. The caller was bringing the equipment, the music, and the talent.  We had no Plan B.

A blast of cold wind swept through the room when the double doors opened to reveal, not the expected caller, but a uniformed police officer. He walked over to the group of dads and asked which one of them was in charge. The men pointed silently to the two of us. We walked to the corner of the room with the cop where he explained that he had stopped a car for speeding and the driver had said he was on his way to a church function where he was supposed to be the entertainment. The policeman said he wanted to make sure because the story had sounded implausible. We assured him that the man was exactly what he professed to be.

The officer, still looking dubious, went out to the parking lot and returned with a tall, slim, slightly stooped man in overalls and a flannel shirt, followed a little blond girl about the age of my Brownies and a boy who was perhaps 11. The children were thin and solemn. One carried a small record player and the other, a stack of 33-rpm records.

The man introduced himself to the two of us and apologized profusely. “We had to milk the cows before we could leave. It takes longer when it’s cold like this,” he told us, “and my wife is feeling bad and couldn’t help. Don’t worry though. . . I can call and teach too and I’ll stay the full time we agreed on.”

Within minutes he had the group in a circle, explaining terms like “allemande left” and “promenade right”.  It didn’t bring out much hidden talent on our part, but certainly evoked much merriment. Learning “Swing your partner” and “Grand Left and Right” to take the inner and outer circles in opposing directions was easier and officially threw the evening as well as the dancers into full swing.

The other leader, also named Mary, and I couldn’t escape a feeling of unease. Something didn’t feel right. The boy would disappear, leaving the little girl to operate the music for her daddy, then the boy would return and whisper something to his dad. A few minutes later we’d see the little girl slipping quietly through the swinging doors.  When she returned, she’d whisper urgently in her father’s ear as he continued calling the dances.

Finally the man asked would we mind if he took a little break so he could go outside and check on his wife. His wife? We’d had no idea that someone had been outside in that subzero darkness all this time.

“Please,” we urged, “have her come inside. She can sit in the kitchen, she can lie down on a pew… bring her in to get warm!”

The man said he didn’t think she’d do that, but he’d ask her. He came back in alone a few minutes later. He shook his head at our questioning looks and came closer, lowering his voice. “She may be having a… miscarriage,” he murmured. “She doesn’t want to come in and disturb the children.”

It was obvious he meant our children; his own children held critical roles in the family drama and carried them out seriously. They’d politely refused the refreshments we offered. They were not there for fun.

We protested as adamantly as we could without letting the dancers overhear us. “We can cancel this,” we insisted to the farmer. “We’ll do it another time. Does she want to go to the hospital? What can we do to help?”

He was adamant in his refusal, insisting that we’d hired him and he was going to honor the commitment. He wasn’t going to disappoint all these little girls. We sensed that the money–$90, as I recall–was very important.  Health insurance?  No need to ask. We could tell by his reaction there was no way this woman would agree to a hospital visit.

We tried to reassure him that he HAD honored his commitment and had more than earned the payment, but he stubbornly refused to stop.

“I don’t take the pay if I don’t do the full job,” he said firmly and stepped back up to the microphone.

We were the only two adult women in the building, but the other leader’s husband was a physician and after she whispered the unfolding situation to him, he went outside to assist her however he could. The police officer, inexplicably still hanging around, followed him. The doctor was back in about ten minutes, shrugging his shoulders to us.

“She says this has happened before and she knows what to do. Doesn’t want to go to hospital and won’t come inside.  I think she’ll be okay. She’s pretty calm; it’s the cop who is in a panic.”

About 15 minutes later the little girl pulled gently on my arm. “Miss,” she whispered, “my mom says do you have some kind of little container you won’t be needing any more.”

I was confused. Did she need water to drink?  She shook her head. “She says it doesn’t need to be very big, but if it had a lid, that would be good.”

Suddenly I realized why the woman needed a container and went into the church kitchen.  I found a clean cottage cheese container with lid and handed it to the child. She accepted it with that same solemn expression and headed for the door, walking along the wall to be as invisible as possible.  My heart literally hurt as I watched the small figure heading out to serve as midwife for the mother who waited alone in the Arctic-like night.

The policeman rushed back inside and drew the doctor aside, whispering excitedly. The doctor shook his head and spoke briefly as if trying to reassure the policeman, who looked beyond ragged by then.

“He radioed for an ambulance,” the doctor told us as he returned from another trip outside. “The blood scared him.”

The farmer overheard this exchange and asked urgently, “Can you cancel it? She won’t go!”

But at that instant,  flashing lights strobed through glass block windows. The doctor grabbed his coat again and we took another break so that the man could go to his wife and join the growing tableau in the parking lot. Inside, our scouts and their fathers, except for our two husbands, remained oblivious to what was happening out there. The fathers, in an unspoken pact, appeared to be working overtime to make it an evening to remember for their little girls.

The farmer came back inside and began calling another dance for the revelers. The doctor whispered to us that he’d sent the ambulance away and would make sure the man wasn’t billed for it. Ironically, the ambulance fee at that time was $90.

At the end of the dance the farmer did accept a cup of punch while his children packed up the equipment. We did not insult him with small talk, but thanked him, quickly paid him his fee and wished them well. The trio did not look back as they headed out for their car and the woman who had waited in the frigid night for over two hours.

To talk of the incident seemed somehow to dishonor the dignity of that family, so we did not speak of it to each other afterwards, but I know that night affected me in ways I still don’t understand. When I hear of young women expecting “push prizes” for childbirth. . . when I hear Congressional arguments about how we can’t afford health care for all. . .  when I read of blizzards in the midwest or look at the moon on a winter night, I think about that family and what it must have been like driving home on that night.  I picture the mother, who was probably near my own age then, feeling that cottage cheese container in her hands lose its warmth… the father, driving more slowly on the return trip, facing another round of milking and feeding the herd before sunrise . . .and the children, who would help with chores and ready themselves for another day at a school where students segregated themselves by whether they were farm kids or town kids: Dirts or Jocks.  These children would be Dirts.

Other families often have visceral realities so very different from our own, but we see them  through our own small lens.   Until, that is, we step away from our own warm hearth. . .  and learn to read by moonlight.

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Moving… to the State of Panic

Don’t think that the grandkids left behind a string of broken items and a wrecked house to put me in this state.  I’m the one that created the situation in which I now find myself:  the deep doodoo place.

Normal grandmothers would, by now, have the guest rooms all fresh and clean and cookies baked for the next visit.  Instead, this grandmother is spending my days searching for things I put away for “safekeeping”  during the grandkids’ recent Thanksgiving visit.

Although I vaguely remember putting my laptop cord someplace out of sight, I assumed it would surface before I needed it.  When the power level on my laptop dropped to 7%,  I put Plan B into operation:  I got really serious about trying to remember where I’d stuck it to keep it out of little Granddaughter’s reach.

Stupid of me to hide it in the first place.  What could she do to a power cord as long as she didn’t flush it?

I began an intensive search of all the possible places I might have stashed it.  At this point I can safely say that it isn’t in a closet or a drawer.  It isn’t hidden behind the toilet paper stash in the bathrooms or the sheets in the linen closet.  It isn’t under the bed, the sofas, or anything else with a skirt.

I’m beginning to wonder if I flushed it myself.

While I was looking for the cord, I was also hoping to come upon  a couple of Christmas presents I’d hidden before the family arrived.  Those gifts are not in any of the above places either.  One of them is a gift for our Atlanta daughter who was here.  This is the first time I can remember that she didn’t “happen to come upon” her obscurely hidden gift.   When it comes to discovering presents, the girl has some bloodhound in her.

The first of the week,  I dejectedly trudged into the Apple Store to buy a new power adapter for my laptop.  That sucker was $80!!!  The person who assisted me said that if I found mine within two weeks, I could return this one (even used) and get a full refund.  I’m down to 11 days now and I still don’t have a clue. I’m thinking of asking my daughter to come back for a quick visit.  If I dropped a hint that her Christmas gift might be very near something that smells like a power cord, who knows?

It used to be that my super-organized spouse would shake his head at my disorganization, but now, he is completely sympathetic.   Having hit the age when  chronic CRS screws around with our brains and our attention span, he understands.  Bob Dylan is right: the times, they are a-changing.

Just yesterday, my Dearly Beloved consoled me by confessing that he poured himself a cup of coffee and almost put the coffee pot in the refrigerator.  The only thing that stopped him, he said, was that the fridge was so full of leftovers, he couldn’t find room for it.

Hmmm.

I’d better check there for the cord.

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Boxed In

Every time my Dearly Beloved sees that I’m writing a blog post, he asks bluntly, “Is this one going to make me out to be a dumbass?”

Dumbassness is in the eye of the beholder on this one.  You decide.

Our cable/internet provider periodically announces big doings to improve service, blah, blah, blah.   Although hope springs eternal, we haven’t as yet found that to be the case.  In fact, the last time our Atlanta grandkids were here and their parents allowed “screen time,”  forty toes lined up across the foot of the bed in the middle bedroom because that’s the only room that has a consistent internet connection.

The company’s best option for providing us with dependable service might be to buy us a king-sized bed for that room.

During the times we’ve moved around the country, I discovered that it was simpler to  register utilities in my name instead of his.  Back then, when I’d report an outage,  the customer service people insisted that only the Mister could to that, since the account was in his name.  Pshaw!  The damn service had gone out; I wanted service, not secret nuclear codes.

Once I put the accounts in my name, reporting problems became easier.  I had only to tell them my “social” (grrrrr!) to prove my true identity.   Of course, it’s simpler now because usually, customer service is a computer.

What I’m getting around to is that I can’t send them an e-mail about a problem, the cable company sends out a lot of e-mails to me these days.  However, once DB retired, I decided that he could now be the cable communicator.  I forward the e-mails to him for handling.  Like his predecessor, he ignores them.

In the spring, he eventually read one that said we needed to order a  doohickey for any TV that didn’t already have an ugly black cable box.   We have a small TV in the kitchen that doesn’t.

DB called and ordered it and not long afterwards, they sent a cardboard box inside a large, inpenatrable envelope made of some Spanx-like material.  Although a box of that size from Amazon would have been ripped open in the entry hall, this one sat unopened  for three months.

Oh, speaking of Amazon, I usually try to keep a few of their neat, small/medium boxes on hand for mailing packages.  DB,  promptly puts them in the recycling bin.  Thus, when I made cookies to send to friends last week, there was no box available. . . until I spotted the doohickey box.  Perfect size!

By then, DB had opened the box, but hadn’t done anything with the contents, so I dumped everything onto a countertop and mailed off the cookies in the box.

Having the pieces lying there may have inspired him to speed up the process, or maybe he’d planned to do it all along, but DB moved them all to the kitchen island and set about the task of connecting, even going so far as to read the instructions.

That TV is not an easy one to reach because it’s on a shelf above the ovens.    DB spent most of the day mumbling to himself as he fiddled with it, hanging it off the shelf in various precarious positions to get to the back of it with his growing assortment of tools.   No service.

The Doohickey
                           The Doohickey

The next day, he went over his work a second time.  At some point, he came upon an instruction that read something like,  If you’ve gotten this far and it isn’t working, call us.

Hell, for my husband, is a tossup between holding and painting.  That day was pretty bad because periodically I’d hear him muttering, “I hate having to hold.”

Don’t we all, Babe.

Finally, he was told that NOW it would work, just give it time to set itself.

For the next two days, he’d go into the kitchen to check that blank grey screen “resetting” itself.  Long after all my watched pots had boiled, the screen continued to hibernate.

DB went over all the steps–except for calling them–another time.  Still nothing.

That night he advised me that he was at an age that he didn’t have to dance to the cable company’s tune, he was going to do exactly what he wanted to and figure it out himself in his own time.

His “figuring” seems to be happening in glacial time.   He hasn’t touched it since.

Dear Cable Company:  your doohickey isn’t worth a toot, according to my husband.

But I must say,  the cardboard box worked perfectly.

The Arthur Report

Whenever hurricanes head for the Outer Banks, I check with my brother to see if he is evacuating or staying there.  It’s an unnecessary step.  He’s always staying put, but I ask anyway.

Friends in other parts of the country see the weather reports and ask about him.  Maybe they’re wondering if BroJoe is one of the nuts waving wildly behind Jim Cantore on The Weather Channel.

I know he’s sensible–to a degree–but he loves aggravating me with false information.

For instance, yesterday he e-mailed that he was shelling on Hatteras Island. Truthfully, I wouldn’t put that past him, but the Weather Channel had mentioned an evacuation order in effect for Hatteras, so he had to be pulling my leg.

Later, he sent me a photo of the supplies he’d laid in:  two bottles of wine.  Red and white, of course.

This morning, the headline in our newspaper said: Arthur makes landfall in N.C.  I e-mailed to ask were those wine bottles floating now.  He sent back two photos and short notes in response.

THE LIVESTOCK REPORT

“Terrified. . . in the eye of the storm.”

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THE CROP REPORT

 “Damage.”

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Check.

Here in Charlotte, the weather is lovely after the much-needed rain yesterday.  Dearly Beloved and I fly our flag proudly, gratefully, on this Independence Day, 2014.
One flag, one land, one heart, one hand, One Nation evermore!

– Oliver Wendell Holmes